Ever notice how much appointment booking can impact your entire day of service? One poor or uncalculated decision could lead to missed appointments and unhappy customers, high service costs, and productivity loss throughout the day.
If you simply give customers the slots they want until the schedule is full, you’re risking higher travel costs if job sites are all over the place. Underestimate job duration or travel time by even a few minutes and you could miss an appointment and lose a customer. Overestimate, and you leave a tech idle when he or she could be completing more jobs.
While there are a variety of appointment booking methodologies used by service companies, they aren’t all created equal. The right appointment booking method will ensure your workforce operates at full capacity, satisfies customers, and meets business goals. In this post we’ll take a look at examples of two appointment booking methods—bucket and truth-based—and compare the outcomes.
Bucket Appointment Booking
The bucket appointment approach works by separating job types into “buckets” and relying on average job duration and travel times to create the schedule.
For example, let’s consider an 8-12 appointment window on a given day. You have one bucket for new installations and another for repair work, each with nine hours of capacity. If an average install takes two hours and average travel time is 30 minutes, you could add three new installs to that bucket. That leaves you with an hour and a half of remaining capacity.
But what happens when a customer calls in for a new install? You could commit to the job and risk not making it. Or you could make the customer wait until the next day and leave a field technician idle. Neither is ideal.
Likewise, averages are much different than reality. Job duration can vary by individual technician skill, or time could be added when there’s a problem. And what if tech gets stuck in traffic? Travel time is always going to vary.
Now what happens when you throw the repair bucket into the mix? Let’s say a repair takes an average of 30 minutes. With travel time, that makes one hour per job on average. In theory, you could fit nine repair jobs in that 8-12 appointment window. But today’s a quiet day and only six customers called in for repairs. That means you have three remaining hours that you could use to squeeze in an install or win more business.
However, these buckets were created in silos, making it difficult to move time from one bucket to another. Even if you could manage it in this scenario, imagine doing so for tens of buckets, for every region, for every day, and every job type.
Now let’s see how truth-based appointment booking plays out.
Truth-based appointment booking
Truth-based appointment booking is the method of booking appointments based on true job durations and true travel time, with the existing schedule in consideration.
Let’s illustrate using the same 8-12 window discussed above. Based on averages, you would expect to be able to fit just three new installations in that window. But what if, in reality, all three customers were located within just ten minutes of each other? That means when a fourth customer calls in for a new install, you could still fit that job into the window—even if they are 30 minutes away.
Now let’s take a look at repairs, and consider it’s still a quiet day. While there were only six repair calls, more customers are requesting new installs. Fortunately, truth-based appointment booking doesn’t operate in silos. Because this method considers the real availability of one complete schedule, you can take free time from repairs to book one or two new installs in that same appointment window.
Optimize with a truth-based appointment booking solution
Because truth-based appointment booking relies on actual data and breaks down silos, it’s the best way to keep your workforce productive and maximize your time. And using this method, an intelligent field service management solution will continuously run and optimize the actual schedule. When another job can be fit in, or if a tech has too much idle time, the system can automatically reshuffle the schedule and assign tasks in a way that fully utilizes your resources.
Truth-based appointment booking can help you prepare the schedule for days, weeks, and months in advance. Because it optimizes in real-time, it allows you to maximize time and offer comfortable, and even same-day, appointments you can keep.
Watch our truth-based appointment booking video to learn more about its advantages in field service.
For more field service management best practices, visit the ClickSoftware blog.